Evaluating Your Current Skill Set


While creative writing and freelancing writing are extremely different, there are skills you currently have as a creative writer that you’ll be able to apply to your freelance writing career. But before you transfer these skills, you need to evaluate your current skill set, since different types of creative writers have different skills.

This lesson is broken down into three sections that correspond to the three main types of creative writing: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I’ll show you how to assess your current skills and give you some examples to guide you.

At the end of this lesson, you’ll have a list of your current skills, which you’ll be putting to use in the next lesson. Let’s get started!

Fiction

Fiction writers tend to have a fairly large skill set. Conveniently, many of these skills can easily be modified to work for freelance writing.

Let’s take a look at some skills that are common among fiction writers.

Fiction writers tend to excel at descriptive writing: i.e., the ability to colorfully describe something at length and with context. Being able to describe with context is crucial here––as a freelance writer, you’ll rely on lots of context to create content. When you write anything from an article to a product description, you’ll build on a contextual foundation. Who is the audience? What value does the content offer? If you’re coming from fiction, parsing this context will be fairly easy for you.

Empathetic writing is another skill most fiction writers possess. To write successful copy or provide value through an article, you’ll have to put yourself in the reader’s shoes to understand what their needs are so that you can meet them. This is similar to looking through the eyes of one of your characters. The more you understand about your audience, the more value you’ll be able to deliver to them, and that’s where empathy is necessary.

Fiction writers also know how to create longform content. Longform content is huge right now, and in fact, it’s all that some businesses and publications put out. Shorter content is becoming less common because it’s usually less valuable, so knowing how to write long content with no filler is a big advantage that fiction writers have.

Take a moment to consider other skills you’ve picked up from fiction writing. Write them down somewhere handy so you can come back and reference them in the next lesson.

Nonfiction

Nonfiction writers may have the easiest time transitioning into a freelance writing career because those two skill sets have a large amount of overlap. Nonfiction writers are used to writing longform pieces about real-life situations and events, so they’re uniquely positioned to cross over into freelancing.

Nonfiction writers have many of the skills that fiction writers do, but they tend to be stronger at descriptive writing and weaker at empathetic writing. This is because nonfiction writers tend to detail accounts of people and places. (Empathetic writing is still used, but it’s not as common in nonfiction.)

If you write nonfiction, you’re also used to reporting. This can come in handy if you’re pursuing a more journalistic career and planning to contribute to publications. You might have even written for magazines in the past. If so, you’ll be able to take advantage of that as a freelancer.

Nonfiction often requires research, which is a key component of freelancing. Being able to quickly and efficiently conduct research on various topics (some of which you may know little to nothing about) will help you work with a variety of clients and projects.

Last but not least, when you write nonfiction, you’re writing about real people. In business, it’s all about the people. If you want to become a successful freelancer, you’ll have to cultivate relationships with clients and editors, and that means knowing how to build and sustain those sorts of relationships.

Poetry

Poets don’t have many skills in common with freelance writers, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re a poet! You just need to approach it a little differently. In short, the skills you possess now will need to be reframed, and that’s what next week is all about.

One skill that will help you is your ability to understand relationships. As a freelance writer, you’ll need to understand all kinds of relationships. For example, you’ll need to understand the relationship between a product and a customer. This makes up a large part of content creation, so by successfully reframing this skill, you’ll have a powerful tool on your hands.

Evaluating Your Skills

At this point, I’d like you to write down all of your skills that you’ve picked up from creative writing. There’s a high likelihood that I’ve skipped over some skills that you possess. If that’s the case, write them down so you can refer to them in future lessons.

Once you’ve compiled a list of all your skills, go through the list and ask yourself how each skill might be used in a freelance writing context. If you have an idea of what type of freelance writing you’ll be doing––i.e., writing for clients or publications––keep that in mind here.

And if you don’t know all that much about freelance writing, don’t worry; just go off of what you know and what you’ve learned so far in this course. As you progress through this course and the No B.S. Course afterward, your knowledge gaps will fill out, and you’ll get a better sense of how to use these skills.

In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to transfer your skills over, and in week 2, you’ll be reframing these skills.

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